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Mt. Baldy – years of curiosity, resolved

Peak SummitedMount Baldy
TrailheadManker Flats

For many years I have thought about getting to the top of Mt. Baldy, but never looked into it until I came across this six-pack challenge. Based on reading reviews, I chose the Ski Hut aka Baldy Bowl trail because I was concerned the Devil's Backbone would be visually problematic (I have a bit of a fear of heights).

At the start, you can see the peak. This is different than all the other hikes I have done in this challenge, where the peak is not immediately visible and therefore the challenge can be abstracted. With Baldy, you are looking right at the peak from just after the trailhead, thinking that it is impossibly high. But it's only 4.4 miles to the top, so just start walking.

The weather was perfect – mid 60's at the start and stayed that way as the emerging sun was countered by altitude gain. Very little wind. Reached the summit in just 3hrs 25mins. I had a bit of a headache and *maybe* lightheaded in the final approach…not sure if it was just fatigue or something altitude related.

I spent a little while at the summit, took some pictures, chatted with a few other people, and confidently headed down on the same trail which I had visually marked on the way up. Went about a quarter mile down, checked my GPS just to make sure all was well…and I was descending the Bear Canyon Trail. Without GPS, who knows how long I would have gone before realizing the error – the trails start near each other and look very similar in the beginning. Luckily in that part of the mountain, you can just traverse so that is what I did, and got back on track.

Baldy Bowl going down is tough but fun. If you take it aggressively and kind of side-slide in parts, it makes it easier to handle. And I had trekking poles. 2hrs 20mins getting down.

The traverse of the Bowl and the early stages of the rise above it are my favorite hiking moments ever. Just so cool. I imagined what it would be like to slide down.

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